O is for Overlook Park -- and Other Great City Parks (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Thu, 11 Jun 2020

O is for Overlook Park -- and Other Great City Parks

[Rainbow over Shumo from Overlook Park] "Ho hum, it's just our local city park", we say, walking back to the parking area from the overlook at Overlook Park here in White Rock.

We're joking, of course. The Overlook has stunning views of White Rock Canyon that change as the light changes. It's maybe three miles from home, and we visit it fairly often and never get tired of the view.

It's amazing to have a place like this so close to home. And sometimes we get to thinking: how many other towns have a city park that compares?

I'm leaving out cases like National or State Parks that happen to have a town nearby, and even large county parks; and just listing outstanding parks that are locally administered by a single town. (That definition may seem like cheating, because technically Overlook Park is a county park, not a city park. But really it's both, since the city and county of Los Alamos are a single entity.)

And this isn't anywhere near a complete list; just some parks that have impressed me while traveling. I'd love to hear about other city-park gems.

[Garden of the Gods]

Garden of the Gods

First place -- maybe even above our beloved Overlook Park -- probably has to go to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. You can wander for hours among spires and hoodoos of red sandstone. Quite spectactular, and if you haven't been, you should. Though not now -- it's popular with tourists and always packed, so I wouldn't recommend it during the time of COVID. The crowds are the only reason I might still rate Overlook higher.
[Pioneer Park, St George, Utah]

Pioneer Park

I always thought of St George, UT is a little road town, a place to stop on I-15 between Los Angeles and Salt Lake. But it has a gorgeous park overlooking the town: Pioneer Park.

Unfortunately I'm having some trouble finding my St George and Kanab photos, and the image here, from bob on Wikimedia Commons, really doesn't get it across. But if you're near there, go see it! It's a very impressive park.

Kanab, UT

If you ever find yourself staying in Kabab, UT, they have a beautiful area on the north side of town where you can wander in and hike for hours amid colorful striped sandstone, iron concretions and other interesting rock formations.

It was memorable enough to make our top-N list. But apparently no one else finds it interesting: I was unable to find anything about it on the web, and all the "what to do in Kanab" pages talk about driving tens of miles to nearby national parks or BLM lands. Not that there's anything wrong with that! But if you do find yourself in Kanab, don't overlook the park you can walk to from your motel.

I should mention that this memory is many years old. I suspect the reason I can't find my photos of the place is that they're film photos in a box somewhere, not digital photos.

We used to stop in Kanab whenever we were passing that way -- it's on the way from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and some of the western Utah national parks -- but shortly after the last time we stayed there, they made the news for a homophobic pronouncement by the city council and a lot of people started boycotting the town. That was a long time ago and I haven't kept up with their current attitudes, but it seems like since then, we always find some place that's more convenient to our plans than Kanab. Too bad, in a way: Nedras, Too had the best Navajo tacos anywhere and is well worth a stop if you're in the area.


Red Rocks Park

Another crowded-but-good entry is Red Rocks Park in Golden, CO. Huge hogbacks of red sandstone slope upward, framing an amphitheatre where they sometimes hold concerts. There are some modest dinosaur tracks to look at, too.

Dave would like me to list Alum Rock Park in San Jose. After all, we did get married there. It's a lovely place, and we spent many happy hours hiking there -- but honestly, I can't say it compares to some of these places. It's in the same category as Griffith Park or the Verdugos in the Los Angeles area: great places to hike, wonderful accessories if you're living in the city, but a travel destination? No.

Back to Overlook

All these are beautiful parks, and terrific places to stretch your legs for a few hours if you're traveling. But you know what? I wouldn't trade Overlook for any of them.

[Overlook Park, looking upstream] There's the view upriver, where you can see the Rio Grande with Shumo, or Otowi Peak, just across the river; if you look farther, you can see Tunyo (Black Mesa), star of many movies and TV shows, nicely framed between the walls of White Rock Canyon.

[Overlook Park, looking downstream] Or you can look downriver, through the wilder part of the canyon. That's the Caja del Rio across the river, full of petroglyphs and interesting volcanic vents; Bandelier is just around the bend to the right.

Best of all, it's never crowded. You can stand as long as you like, watch the Rio Grande roll below you and take in the panorama while listening to the swifts call as they wheel off the edge of the cliffs. A 180-degree panoramic photo doesn't begin to get it across, but here's one anyway.

[Overlook Park 180-degree panorama]

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[ 14:55 Jun 11, 2020    More travel | permalink to this entry | ]

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